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Beethoven: Complete Piano Concertos Box set
|Price:||£10.97 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £20. Details|
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The Beethoven Symphony cycle by the Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich conducted by David Zinman achieved somewhat of a cult status, first released on a budget label, later in full glory issued on Sony Classical. The same characteristics that distinguished the symphony cycle apply for this set of the complete piano concertos: warmth, clarity, drive and total commitment. Soloist is world famous pianist Yefim Bronfman, a virtuoso who is able to bring out the power and delicacies of these wonderful masterworks by Beethoven, which count among the most frequently performed works of the whole classical repertoire. As generous bonus works feature the Choral Fantasy and the Overture Meeresstille und glückliche Fahrt.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Despite his nickname, Yefim Bronfman knows here to differentiate the minutest nuances, enjoys soaring in median movements of the concertos, lets his fabulous finger work develop properly in the virtuosic passages but contrasts his bravura with lyrical oasis – see for instance the dream-like Adagio un poco mosso from “Emperor” concerto or the tragic utterance Andante con moto (from the Fourth concerto. . A major role in showcasing the soloist plays the wonderful Tonhalle Zurich orchestra under his former chief conductor David Zinman. I congratulate the artists also for including Choral fantasy n their Beethoven concertante integral committed to disc. It is a work of a particular charm, a quintessential precursor of the IXth symphony to come in Titan’s output...
On the series "Alaska, the Last Frontier", one of the Kilchers remarks that money can't buy happiness, but it can buy goats. Though not a goat, this set is a fine example of happiness money can buy.
These are breezy (but not weightless) Classical performances, as if Mozart were at the keyboard. To extend the animal metaphor, they evoke 'possum grins.
The Choral Fantasia, which often comes off as a tediously repetitive bore, a clumsy, incompetent anticipation of 9:4, is here a brilliant, engaging showpiece.
Stop what you're doing, and buy a copy. You will be very happy for a few hours each time you play it.
Like other collectors, I own numerous single renditions of the Beethoven piano concerti. But I currently only have two complete sets: Fleisher/Szell and this one. Many other complete sets have been fed to the sharks at the end of the pier, either because they were wholly unimpressive, highly variable in quality, or didn't present a cohesive perspective. "Cohesive" doesn't necessarily mean "homogenous", but every pianist has to have a point of view, and many don't carry it through on all five. And not every pianist fully embraces each of these 5 concerti on their own merits; some don't seem to "get" any of them.
Not a problem here on any of these counts. In my opinion, Zinman/ Bronfman shine from start to finish: energetic performances, clear textures, finely-judged balance of bravado and poetry, extremely fine soloist playing and intuitive "dialogue" between soloist with the orchestra. There's also the strong sense of letting the music speak for itself, and an accompanying sense of discovery. Bronfman is an incredible pianist, and whole passages left me breathless; some really daring finger-work and risks taken. But you never come away feeling he's abdicated the obligation as an interpreter and surrendered to the temptation to be a mere showman. It all serves the music well. Zinman's accompaniment is highly informed by--but never a hostage to--historically-informed performance practices. If you own and like his justly-praised Beethoven symphony set with the Zurich Tonhalle, chances are you'll find a lot here to admire. The same sense of freshness pervades throughout.
Everyone will have their favorite performances of individual concerti. For me, concertos 4 and 5 are sacred ground, and I tread very carefully. There is intense competition (if you can call it competition when the giants each have something unique to say): Gilels/Ludwig, Richter-Haaser/Kertesz, Schnabel/Sargent, Fischer/Furtwangler, and even Walter Gieseking/Galliera or Rother all have to be reckoned with. More recently Sudbin/Vanska and Fellner/Nagano have been received with justifiable acclaim. As individual performances, the Bronfman/Zinman renditions complement--but will not supplant--other individual gods in the pantheon. As an integral set, however, they're in very rare company indeed, which is why I'd recommend this set side-by-side with Fleisher/Szell.
If all this weren't enough, Brilliant Classics has once again made an already-inexpensive set an even cheaper reissue...how can you resist all this for about $15 bucks (or even less than $10 on Amazon marketplace?)
In summary, I could hardly better what Brian Rinehart wrote in his review of this set on the "MusicWeb" site:
"This is one of the easiest choices in the catalogue. Yefim Bronfman and David Zinman teamed up...to deliver an extraordinary Beethoven concerto cycle, characterized by fleet tempos, freshness and an utter lack of self-aggrandizement.
Here is a complete list of reasons not to own this set: (a) you hate classical music, (b) you are literally bankrupt, (c) you are legally deaf."